Local plan to finally go to referendum –…

Local plan to finally go to referendum – almost seven years after work on it started

A “LOCAL plan” that will shape future development in Steeton and Silsden will go to a public vote almost seven years after work on it began.

The plan, which will help determine issues like what areas of land should be protected from development, and areas where development should be encouraged, will go to a public referendum in May – or whenever the next local election takes place.

The 87 page document went before Bradford Council’s Executive on Tuesday, when members voted that the plan go to the referendum.

The Parish Councils of Steeton with Eastburn and Silsden decided to develop a joint local plan in 2014. The final draft of this plan was finally completed late last year.

In highlights that many of the traditional employment opportunities in the area have dried up over the years.

In Steeton it points out that three of the village’s mills have closed, and the number of shops in the area has fallen from 150 at the start of the 20th century to just 10 today.

Many former shops and business units have been converted into housing.

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Silsden once had 15 textile mills, but all of these have now closed, with many converted into flats or demolished.

The local plan says: “These closures have resulted in a huge decline in the number of jobs available for local employment.

“Silsden was once regarded as being a self-sufficient town but has evolved into a town of commuters.

“There is a good choice of small shops and businesses which serve the Silsden area and do offer some employment but not in any great number.”

The plan adds: “The town is particularly well served by eight hairdressing and beauty salons and four barber’s shops.”

The plan aims to protect and enhance community facilities, safeguard certain green sites and identify the best areas for new business developments.

When planning applications are submitted, a common response from people living near a proposed development site is that the plan is “in the wrong place.”

A Local Plan will set out what are “wrong” places for development, and give objections more weight.

However, it would also make it more difficult for people to object to developments in an area set aside as the “right” place for such developments.

At the online meeting Councillor Alex Ross Shaw, Executive for regeneration and transport, said: “We know how much work has gone into developing this plan.”

Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said of the local councillors behind the plan “Congratulations for making sure you stick with it. Your tenacity has been admirable.”

Councillor Rebecca Whitaker (Cons, Craven) is also a Silsden Town Councillor and helped develop the plan. She said: “A local plan will afford better protection for our area.

“We listened to the views of local residents and included their suggestions wherever possible.

“It is important that local people feel they have been listened to and will be in the future when planning applications come forward.”

When a developer undertakes a major planning application, they often have to pay a CIL (community infrastructure levy) fund as a condition.

This money is used to boost local facilities such as schools and highways.

When an area has a local plan, a portion of this funding goes directly to that area’s town or parish council.

Cllr Whitaker added: “This will mean an increased amount of CIL money coming into the area that can be spent on local projects and infrastructure.

“It will not just benefit our existing residents, it will also benefit any new residents that move into the area.”